Is Vista Ready for You?

Is Microsoft’s New Windows Vista Ready for You?

by Greg Perry by Greg Perry


This week marks a major event in Microsoft history: the release of Microsoft Windows Vista. The next version of Windows is here. The one you’ve heard about for a year or more.

Much to Microsoft’s shareholder’s dismay, as well as manufacturers of all Windows-based computers, Microsoft failed to get the operating system out the door in time for the 2006 Christmas selling season.

This was a major problem for all involved.

Delay or Not, Here It Comes

Are you jumping for joy yet? Microsoft hopes you’ve already reserved a copy for every computer in your home as well as for every person in your family, extended family, and neighborhood block.

The naysayers were happy about the delay. Microsoft got its come-uppance by its failure. Not getting Vista out in time for Christmas truly was a problem. Having said that, Microsoft could have released it in time for the Christmas buying frenzy. If Vista had been released early, the version that would have arrived on your new PC would work fairly well — except for its serious flaws.

I’ve been running the pre-final release of Vista for a couple of months. I get the beta versions since I’m an author. (You know I’m not one to tout my own writing but if you want the best book that will ever be written for Vista, Amazon has greatly discounted for you my huge Teach Yourself Microsoft Vista All in One.) Throughout the writing process I’ve had some sleepless nights over the bugs in each generation of the beta version. As Microsoft released each beta version over the past year, Windows Vista got better and better. But Vista was never really good and fairly bug-free until the "final" version Microsoft released for sale this week.

Due to the bugs, Microsoft bit the bullet and delayed shipment. Financially, they would be far better off today if they had shipped in time for Christmas sales. They would be financially better in the short run that is. Users would be frustrated beyond belief at the problems that still plagued the Vista release right before the current and final version 1.0. Users wouldn’t trust Microsoft ever again (many don’t now) so Microsoft played it safe and took the financial hit. In addition, that hit was shared by manufacturers of any PC you may have bought in December for the holiday.

You benefited though. You get better software (less buggy) this week than you would have gotten in December. Also, you saved some money on that computer if you bought one because those manufacturers had to take an extra price cut to give you an incentive to buy then and not wait for this week’s PCs that Vista comes pre-installed on.

My View of Vista

If you want my perspective on Vista, I can tell you without hesitation. I like Vista. I love the disk-imaging backup program available as well as the greatly-improved entertainment software that enables you to manage pictures, music, and video with far more power and ease than before. Vista is far more secure than Windows XP. Yes, Vista will have security issues and so will any operating system. Vista goes a long way to ensure far greater security and it’s much more difficult for a rogue program to bring down your entire computer and operating system. (At the time of this writing, it appears impossible and let’s hope it stays that way.)

Vista is computer-hungry but if you purchased a medium-to-high powered computer over the past 2 years your hardware should be adequate. Some people will need to upgrade their graphics card to get the 3D-like Aero graphical interface that Microsoft hypes above all other Vista features. (Aero is nice to look at but not a must-have feature in the least.)

You Can Pay Hundreds Or Have Free Software

I suspect that many who read love Apple’s MAC OS X or the open source concept that Linux provides for PC users. I think those are great too! The open source software’s price is just right too; why pay hundreds for Windows and Office when you can have Linux and for a smile?

Well, for one thing not everyone can easily adopt and use Linux and in spite of how much better those programs get each year. Computers are, in 2007, still difficult for many to use. When you toss in a strange mix of operating system and almost-Office-like suite of programs, it adds just enough extra confusion to keep frustration levels too high for those users. In addition, the majority of the world does use Windows and Office, both Microsoft’s flagship products, and — yes — both with problems and high costs.

When using software, it’s like the videos you watch and the music you listen to. You want to have the format that most others have. Interaction would be made difficult if we all ran different flavors of software. Look how long it took Apple and PCs to begin getting fairly-accurate compatibility modes where one can run the software of the other (without real problems). Apple users had a better system but they paid far more for the software and hardware than PC users all those years. With ability comes cost and all the while the PC world just kept inching outward while users who comprise Apple’s core (I had to say that) remained a small part of the user pie.

Many Flavors of Vista and Many Cost Levels to Choose From

So how much is Vista?

It depends on which Vista you want. There are several.

Amazon has them all. In the following list I’ll provide the cost assuming you’re upgrading from Windows XP. Keep in mind that Microsoft has approved a multi-user deal and you can upgrade your purchase with an additional license for another computer in your home or office for a discounted price that runs about 2/3rds the cost of the first upgrade.

  • Upgrading to Vista Home Basic will cost you $98.99 and is said to be "Designed for users with the most basic computer needs." This does not include you, trust me. Home Vista Basic is a stripped-down version whose reason for existence is beyond understanding. Forget Vista Home Basic and stick with Windows XP until you’re ready for one of the higher-level Vista installations that contain adequate features.
  • Upgrading to Vista Home Premium runs you $152.99. This is a more full-featured Vista with Vista’s new graphical bells and whistles, integrated PC-wide search, Vista’s new photograph and music and video entertainment-related programs, and includes tablet and touch technology. Media Center, previously available only on computers designated as such, is now a part of Vista Home Premium so if your computer has a TV tuner card you can use your PC like an advanced PVR, recording and pausing live shows. Home Premium allows you to stream your digital music and video files to any computer on your home network with Vista so you can more easily watch and listen to your media from more than one room.
  • Upgrading to Vista Business Premium runs you $191.99 and includes all the features of the Home Premium version as well as better data protection with a disk-image backup program that enables you to re-create a damaged hard drive to get you up and running far faster than a traditional back-up allows. If you’re a heavy home user you should consider Vista Business Premium for the disk imaging backup feature because it costs less to buy Vista Business Premium than the lesser-priced Vista Home Premium plus a disk-imaging program like Norton Ghost.
  • Upgrading to Vista Ultimate gets you all the new bells and whistles possible. Vista Ultimate includes everything in Business Premium as well as advanced mobile-to-workstation communications, disk drive and file encryption for extremely secure data (a feature Libertarians will appreciate), and you get all this and more for a measly $249.99 (measly if your name is Bill Gates).

When you get any version of Vista you technically get all of them. All are available on the same DVD and only the packaging changes. When you register Vista and enter your package’s activation code the code determines which version becomes active on your computer.

The good news is if you upgrade and get an activation number for a more advanced version you don’t need to download anything or get a new installation disc. You’ll enter your new registration code in your current Vista version and Vista upgrades itself to the new level,

Get Vista, Then We’ll Talk

Over the next few weeks I’ll send Lew an article or two with tips that will help you get up and running on Vista much quicker than you may otherwise do. Also I’ll let you know how you can leverage the new Microsoft Office 2007. I’ve been using both for about a year and I know the features you want to learn right now and the ones you don’t need to touch because they are hype and little else.